What is the Hyperactivity Syndrome?
Those children who are impulsive, absent-minded and hyperactive are frequently sent to the pediatrician for evaluation and treatment.
Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders are chronic behaviour disorders of neurological origin which can interfere with an individual’s capacity to inhibit the conduct (impulsiveness), to interfere with the efficient functioning in activities with a specific target (lack of attention), toalter the level of activity (hyperactivity) in a way proper to the maturity status.
How is the diagnosis made?
Many times teachers are the ones who call the attention over the child’s behaviour, though this pathology shows itself in all the fields where the child interacts.
We should be alert if :
A child does not manage to pay attention to details or makes mistakes due to lack of care when doing homework, housework or other work.
1- He does not seem to listen when he is spoken to directly.
2- Unimportant stimuli distract him.
3- He moves the hands or feet constantly or he moves in his seat.
4- He leaves his seat in the classroom or in other situations when he is expected to remain seated.
5- He talks excessively.
6- He has difficulty in waiting a turn.
7- He interrupts other’s conversations or games.
8- He finds it difficult to get on well with other children.
9- He has difficulties at school.
These are some of the items that must be taken into account to evaluate children which are suspected to have the disorder (ADHD).
The symptoms must be sustained in time and must have a duration of over 6 months.
It is important to point out that there is a variety of entities and stressful situations which appear with bad concentration, disturbance of conduct or problems at school so a differential diagnosis must be made; there are also other medical disorders and maturity differences.
What is the treatment?
To treat this pathology we should do a multidisciplinary task involving the child, the parents, the doctor, the school staff, psychologists.
We must establish a therapeutical alliance in order to modify conducts.
Only in severe cases in which this alliance is not enough to lessen the symptoms do we have the possibility to treat the patient with stimulants like Methylphenidate with which good results have been achieved.
What is the forecast?
Between 30 and 70% of the children continue being symptomatic during adulthood. The medication is still effective in the case of adults but the response rate may be smaller.
1-Not any child having “problems” at school suffers from the Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Syndrome.
2-The diagnosis must be made with exclusion of other pathologies.
3-The treatment must be multidisciplinary and it is based on the modification of conducts.
4-The treatment based on medication is effective may cause collateral effects.
Pediatrics in Review, Vol.20, Nº3; May 1999.
Barkley R.A. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders. Sci am, 1998, 66-71.